By Marc Woodland on February 21, 2020

How to align your sales and marketing departments

One of the biggest issues stopping companies from hitting their growth targets is a lack of alignment between sales and marketing.

Marketing is busy in their department creating content and campaigns to drive awareness and leads, and Sales are often working separately on outbound campaigns not fully aware of what marketing is even doing. Working in these silos means that no department benefits from the efforts of the other. Leads generated by marketing aren’t followed up on and closed, and Sales don’t utlise content generated by Marketing to engage and nurture leads into customers.

Here are some ways to align Sales and Marketing:

  1. Sharing information

  2. Agreeing what constitutes a lead, and

  3. Communicating results from activity

Sharing information

A big problem when it comes to Sales and Marketing alignment is that they don’t talk to each other often enough. You’ll often find that each department is looking at the same problem, but from a different angle, so will actually have a bundle of valuable insights to share on an ongoing basis.

This is especially true when it comes to creating or revisiting target personas. Both departments, from their various interactions, will have a plethora of insights to share when it comes to the demographic make-up of their ideal target, as well as the challenges they face, what they are trying to achieve and how your product or service best helps them. Creating personas is often left to the marketing department - really this should be a joint effort.

Also, as we know from the ABM process, before you create any campaign you want to analyse as much data and insights you can gather on the target audience. Marketing may take care of the desk research and any primary research to interview representatives of your audience. But sales should also be asked to share their insights to build a campaign that they’ll be happy to work with (as they’ve been a part of creating it) and will have a better chance of resulting in sales. The Sales department will have a good sense of the messaging that’s been resonating with your audience most recently and the most up-to-date objections to using your services.

How to solve this

The answer to this one isn’t rocket science, and it usually involved two things:

  1. Helping Sales and Marketing to realise how helpful they can be to one another

  2. Making it easy for them to communicate

This might involve the way the office is set-up, to encourage collisions between members of the departments, ensuring they have a shared, active instant messaging channel, or organising a regular meeting between the leaders of each department to ensure everyone is fully informed of the latest developments.

To kick start this, we’d encourage you to do a Sales and Marketing alignment workshop. Get Marketing to present to Sales what assets they’ve recently produced and what campaigns are currently running. Then get sales to give an update on their current activity and facilitate a shared discussion on how each department could best work together and make use of the assets Marketing has produced. From this workshop, you’ll be surprised how many times you’ll hear Sales representatives saying “I didn’t know we had that! That will be very useful for…”.

What constitutes a lead

Often, Marketing and Sales will have very different ideas as to what constitutes a lead. Marketing might think it’s anyone who opens an email, whereas sales might need them to show much more buying intent than that to warrant using resources for a follow-up call. If sales reach out too early, it could annoy the prospect and look pushy, if sales reach out too late they could miss the opportunity.

There’s nothing worse than realising in hindsight that Marketing have generated X amount of what they think are ‘hot leads’ only to find out that they were never acted upon by Sales.

How to solve this

Lead scoring is a great way to set metrics against what constitutes a good lead. Sales and Marketing should get together and assign scores against activity and agree what score should be reached for sales to be notified of the opportunity. For example, you might decide that Sales will be notified when a lead score reaches five points. When a prospect opens an email, that could be one point, when they click a link two more points and if they submit an enquiry form - ten points! However you set it up is up to you. The important thing is that Sales and Marketing are aligned on what a lead is and when Sales should get involved.

In order to use lead scoring, you need to ensure you have an effective CRM and CMS set-up, like Hubspot.

Results from their efforts

People are often motivated and fulfilled by the impact of their efforts. There’s nothing worse than working hard on a task or project and never actually finding out the fruits of your labour. Marketing could be busy constructing new campaigns and Sales never actually communicate the email that came through, or the phone call that they received off the back of a campaign. Marketing has come a long way in tracking the results of activity. But there are definitely still blind spots.

How to solve this

Set up a structure for Sales and Marketing reporting to each other on results. When Sales have a new win, or a good enquiry they should communicate this to Marketing and celebrate and learn from the win. If Marketing has produced a piece of content which is proving particularly popular, they should flag this to Sales, may want to share the article on their prospects or on their LinkedIn profiles. 

This is also vitally important when working with agencies. Too often, clients will have a good win and never actually communicate that to their agency. Positive results motivate people and a motivated workforce is a powerful workforce.

They key to solving the issue of aligning Sales and Marketing is the same solution as with most things in life - good communication. When a company's departments get siloed you’re not making the most of your resources and achieving your best results.

How aligned are your Sales and Marketing departments? Are you now going to go away and run a workshop or what do you do to ensure both departments work together? Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know.


Image credit: Studio Fi 

Published by Marc Woodland February 21, 2020